My two week touristy interlude brought by various visitors has come to an end this week, and I have returned to the normal rhythm of Parisian life. This consisted of taking the boys I look after on the métro during rush hour, which was stressful to say the least. I was also brought back to reality when I got my results from several tests that I had taken… Whilst my Thème (French into English translation) marks were very good – especially considering I had done no preparation, my Version marks were pretty ‘catastrophique’, as one of my teachers nicely put it. Version is the opposite of Thème, so translation from English into French, which is obviously much harder for Anglophones. However, I was shocked by how harsh the French marking system is. It’s actually pretty common for students to fail here in comparison to England. The marking system (for translation anyway) works on an error-counting basis, which I find quite depressing. Instead of being rewarded for anything you’ve done well, the system here seems to focus solely on negatives and mistakes. I do find this rather demotivating for students here, who are usually pretty chuffed if they receive fifty per cent.
Enough on the woes of student life, of which actual studying forms a small part for Erasmus students! Last weekend was Jenn’s 21st, which was certainly celebrated in style in the City of Light. I went to hers Saturday evening for drinks, as well as going to the renowned tea room Angelina on Sunday afternoon. On Friday I finally got round to seeing the Paris vu par Hollywood exhibition at Hôtel de Ville which celebrates nearly ten decades worth of Hollywood films inspired by La Ville Lumière. Far from being a foreign unknown city, over 800 films have been shot in the capital or in a reconstructed version in studios. The exhibition is small, yet definitely worth a visit for any avid Hollywood fanatics, displaying many behind-the-scenes snippets including scripts, set and costume designs and dresses worn by the likes of Audrey Hepburn. There are also several sketches of scenes from Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris whose mise-en-scène is amazing (which cancels out the amount of over-exaggerated clichés used through the film!) I also enjoyed seeing the costume designs for Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, whose lavish imagery and daring soundtrack sets it apart from most period dramas and caused a bit of a mixed reaction in France when released. The exhibition is very popular (we queued for almost an hour to get in), so I would recommend trying to go Monday-Thursday if you want to avoid the tourist rush.
I went to my Martinican friend Gregory’s house party on Friday evening, where I was having such a good time that a group of us stayed until the early hours of the morning and got the first metro home just before the crack of dawn. I then felt that I had to stop for a chat with my local greengrocer friends, who had already had their Friday night’s sleep and were up to man the shop during the early shift. Gregory was the perfect host, providing snacks from Martinique and even made pancakes for us all for breakfast! This is something that the English definitely lack during a night of drinking – I have rarely seen a table of snacks at a house party or pre-drink, it is just not part of our drinking culture. Whereas Europeans love to appreciate food and drink at the same time, the two just do not go together at all for the English, which is definitely why we end up bladdered often before midnight. The combination of food and drink here means that I can last a lot longer than usual compared to nights out back home, where I usually want to conk out by half 3. That said, I am still here on Saturday evening sitting in my pyjamas and enjoying a rare lazy day in!
Paris vu Paris Hollywood: 18th September- 15th December, open Monday-Saturday 10h-19h.
Hôtel de Ville – 5 rue Lobau, 75004 Paris. Métro : Hôtel de Ville